Located on the Malabar Coast, Kochi, the largest city in Kerala, consists of an archipelago of various islands like Ernakulum, Willington Island, Fort Kochi - Mattancherry peninsula, Bolgatty, Gundu and Vypeen islands. Known for its backwaters, one can take a ferry to navigate between its various islands, just like Goa. The city, at different points in time, was inhabited by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, which is evident when one visits the Old Kochi Fort. The harbour town enjoyed spice trade with the Arabs, Chinese, Jews and Romans all of which made Kochi a cultural cauldron over several millennia.
Kerala has been the family favourite and frequently visited over the past decade. This time around it was a short visit mainly to Kochi and Munnar during the summer vacations. We landed at Ernakulam Airport at noon and were hungry. Our resourceful driver Jobin recommended that we grab a bite at one of the malls. He suggested Lullu Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in India.
Post lunch, we decided to visit Marine Drive, which is a long tree-lined promenade that lines the backwaters. A ferry boat ride was the perfect way to spend a laid-back evening. We sailed by the promenade facing fancy high rises, an islet with colonies of sea birds, hotels and resorts. The beautiful Bolgatty Palace built by the Dutch was the cynosure of all eyes. The soothing, gentle breeze and picturesque sunset helped us forget the hustle-bustle and stresses of everyday life as this was after all ‘God’s Own Country’.
The next day we set off to explore the Hill Palace at Tripunithura which was earlier the residence of the Maharaja of Kochi but today is a museum with a treasure trove of artefacts. Beautifully landscaped gardens welcomed us to the palace grounds as we ascended a flight of stairs that took us to the palace. We were required to deposit our bags and cameras as photography is prohibited. The museum was chock-a-block with manuscripts, inscriptions on palm leaves, wooden sculptures of gods and goddesses, coins, jewellery, clothes and sepia-toned photos providing a glimpse to the opulence and glorious past of the royals.
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